From Fear To Freedom, Coming Out Later In Life.

I spent forty-nine years building a successful life, marriage, family and reputation, only to step into a new phase of life with new understandings, breaking down barriers, learning to unlearn everything I thought I knew and to begin true healing. This is my journey of coming out later in life and moving through fear to freedom with courage and grace. Though this might not be your story, we can learn so much from each other’s trials, tribulations and successes by creating safe spaces to share, be our authentic selves and still feel a sense of  belonging, kindness and love for all.

What does Key Instincts have to do with this story?

Key Instincts has always been a safe place while I have been moving through this process, one of the hardest times of my life. Key Instincts leads by example in inclusivity and are very passionate about creating safe workspaces in belonging and support for our clients and our own team. Not only do we support the general HR aspects of a company such as talent acquisition, onboarding, employee documentation, and conflict resolution and mediation, but we also support all remaining aspects of our client’s team in regards to mental, physical and emotional wellness and equity, diversity and inclusion. Key Instincts is revolutionizing the HR world by putting the ‘human’ aspect back into Human Resources.

My Story

Questions came up in my 20s about my sexuality, but it posed to be too risky to find out. It was the 90s, people were dying because they were gay or being shamed by their loved ones. It was not an option for me. There was no representation of someone like me and I didn’t fit any of the molds that were out there. I was a gay feminine woman that still was attracted to the opposite gender. Life continued regardless of this deep secret keeping me from my full potential. I had a beautiful life, an amazing husband that I had been with for more than 20 yrs, a very loving family and impeccable reputation for my kindness, volunteer work, infectious energy and giving heart to my community.

One day that changed.

It changed when I spoke the words out loud. Speaking of my curiosity without realizing it wasn’t my inside voice anymore. It was delivered to the ears and heart of my husband. In one instant, my life was forever changed. Over the next 3 years we moved through it as best as we could. Everyday I was riddled in fear; fear of the unknown, fear of losing the life as I knew/losing my beautiful marriage, hurting everyone I loved. But the fear of the opposite was even stronger; the fear of never to be ‘known’, never to really know myself fully… feeling like I was wearing a mask. Instead of holding my back, the fear propelled me to keep moving forward. Moving forward despite the fear, I learned of my strength/resilience/bravery, it amplified compassion for myself and for others. I challenged old programming and beliefs, turned inward and looked deeply at myself. I was no longer going to wonder if I would die with no one ever really knowing me, because if anything, I was going to know me. I received many examples of what unconditional love really looks through this journey; from my co-workers, my friends and especially from the love I received from my ex-husband and my 2 boys. I am grateful every day for how much support I had.

The fears we face can become catalysts for personal growth and opportunities to know our fullest and truest authentic self.

What is FEAR?

Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined. It is one component of the fight or flight response to a threat; our entire being, when anxious and afraid, screams at us to get the heck out of dodge. I work everyday with our clients to balance and strengthen the nervous system… It only seemed right that I started with my own nervous system.

Let’s look at it a different way: Acronyms for F.E.A.R

AND REMEMBER Let go of old thoughts and old programing, look at the data in front of you and focus on where you wanting
to go with your life, your thoughts, your state of mind.

What is FREEDOM?

Freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. It is the
quality or state of being free, liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another, independence.

Acronym for F.R.E.E.D.O.M to consider:

  • Forgive the past.
  • Release the burdens and let them go.
  • Expand your horizons and see from a new perspective.
  • Excitement for your life and the future that awaits.
  • Destination lies ahead so keep on moving.
  • Open your mind to new beginnings.
  • Miracles surround you, open your eyes to see.

Being my truest, fullest and authentic self is FREEDOM.

Coming out later in life: Why it takes a minute Accepting and disclosing one’s gender identity or sexual orientation as something other than what is assumed is already challenging for most; with all the internal questioning/processing, the impact it would make and how it will be received can feel like it is too much to take on. Coming out later in life offers additional complexity for many reasons: we are living in a heteronormative culture, the stigma, the attitudes around us regarding LGBTQ+ identity, involvement of your children when coming out later in life, inclusivity (or lack thereof) at their workplace, religious expectations, internalized homophobia we may suffer from. With all of these fears circulating in one’s mind, is coming out now even worth it all the trouble it will cause?

Dilemmas of coming out later in life;

Some dilemmas: the impact on one’s mental and physical well-being, feelings of loneliness, worry, depression, confusion, anxiety, and fear, the implosion of all you know or have thought your life was, the lack of acceptance from family/friends/coworkers, criticism by others on how you are living your life, this person may feel very separated from our own life/family/groups of friends/coworkers/community, there are so many old beliefs that are in question, we need to unlearn old beliefs/programming and agreements, acceptance into queer community can be challenging, etc.

Benefits to coming out later in life & living more authentically;

There are so many reasons to keep a person from taking this leap of faith, but the benefits are worth it: you have more control over the coming out process (and potential fallout), this person may be ready to finally seize the moment because life is too short to wait/begin living with no promise of tomorrow, to feel
relief/peace/excitement of the present/future, we are no longer asking for approval or editing yourself for others, when acceptance is received from family/friends/coworkers/community a person can flourish, you can feel very empowered when ridding yourself of old beliefs/programming and agreements that no longer work for you or are not in alignment of you/the life you want, welcome more authentic relationships and to have the Freedom to be yourself.

I am one of the lucky ones. As much as my world and life changed immensely and it was full of darkness, I never gave up on myself or stopped reaching for the light. The people I surrounded myself with continued to love me, support me and encourage me to be me. I have been in awe of how my ex-husband and children loved me through it all. Happily today, we continue to have a ‘family first’ mentality; with open communication and time together to continue to build our relationships/our family unit. We make it a priority to surround ourselves with people who are fans of us and who are fans of what we are trying to create. We are breaking the mold of what separation or divorce usually looks like for most families. We are staying close, we are loving each other, we are
supporting each other, we are including our significant others into this family. There is no limit to love here…WE ARE EXPANDING IT!

Why share the stories of our journeys, hardships, successes and big transitional times with others? When we share, we open a space to be seen, heard, “known” with the possibility of feeling supported and loved, we don’t know what another person is going through (privately or in silence) or who needs to hear or know about your story. It lets people get to know you better, shows character, resiliency, courage, vulnerability. Minds, hearts and connections can open up. By sharing we help build community.

Key Instincts help enhance inclusivity in your workplace?

Inclusivity is so important, not only in our personal lives/families/community, but also in the workplace. Positive and inclusive company cultures create a sense of identity for employees, foster a sense of commitment, and guide/shape the attitudes and behaviours of all employees. It is an opportunity to learn and
grow as a company and as individuals, while embodying employee and colleague support. An inclusive workplace is more likely to attract and retain a diverse workforce, which has the potential to outperform competitors. When we take care of our employees, they will take care of our business.

Key Instincts helps our clients create safe and healthy workspaces where all members feel valued, respected, supported and comfortable to be themselves.
A healthy culture can help with employee retention, productivity, reputation, and product quality Wellness Tips through challenging times I often help my clients get through challenging or difficult times. Suggestions I offer: focus on our mental, emotional and physical well-being, surround yourself with people who lift you up, find community(online and in person), therapy/life coaching, meditation/breathwork, physical exercise, listen to uplifting music/podcasts
or read empowering material.

My own personal wellness through my journey was that I surrounded myself with trusted people, I went to therapy and weekly life coaching sessions. We changed our sessions from ‘Life Coaching’ sessions to ‘Power’ Sessions, my intention of staying in my power and reminding me of my power/courage/vulnerability. At work, Key Instincts supported me by fully accepting me as I was, offering a safe environment for everyone to be able
to share/talk/seek support…at Key Instincts, everyone has a right to sit at the table and feel they belong.

What is your story?

Our stories may be very different, but they certainly all matter!!!! Allowing others to get to know us, knowing each other, to know ourselves better, to know it is ok to all be different, that no matter what our differences are; we are all deserving of love, kindness and to feel we belong. What have you experienced in your life that showed up in the form of resilience, strength, diversity, vulnerability, authenticity and fear? When did you step out of our comfort zone and really ‘stretched’ yourself? Are we living fully or dreaming big enough? Have we accomplished all we are capable of? Are you willing to share?

Start a ripple in understanding, compassion and kindness for others!!!! Be kind, so LOVE wins.

people holding flags during daytime

Resources if you’d like some additional support for your own coming out journey:
2.  (Anne Marie is amazing- she was hugely part of my journey)
3.  (Lisa, was my life coach who helped me through my journey)
4. (Inclusive businesses across Canada)